The right nutrition can never be over emphasized. There is no gainsaying the fact that the pregnant state naturally comes with its own peculiar challenges, with implications for both mother and baby. At least two individuals are involved – the mother and her baby(ies)- and a delicate yet vital balance must be maintained to ensure the health of neither is compromised in any way.
There is a popular adage that you are what you eat – and so is your baby! But why is this so true? The answer is not far-fetched. Everything you consume is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream and your unborn baby ultimately gets its own fair share through a vital organ, the placenta that normally links the mother and foetus, ensuring that the foetus receives adequate supply of oxygen and nutrients.
From the foregoing, it is now obvious that when you are pregnant, your unborn baby relies mainly on what you take for its nourishment to the extent that its health is directly linked to what you consume.
In view of this fact, let us now take a look at some of the foods that could be harmful to you and/or your baby during pregnancy:
As much as fish can prove very beneficial to you during pregnancy since it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and animal protein, you still need to be quite selective on which ones to consume. Seafoods like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and shellfish have been shown to contain high levels of mercury which can be injurious to the developing brain of your unborn baby. However, catfish, salmon, shrimp and tilapia are all safe for your consumption during pregnancy.
Coffee and other caffeine-containing products are to be taken with caution during pregnancy. Numerous studies suggest that high levels of caffeine may be associated with miscarriage and low birth weight. In the same vein, caffeine is likely to cross the placenta and may lead to foetal distress in the unborn baby. The current recommendation is to limit caffeine intake to less than 200-300mg in a day if you must take it at all.
Raw or Undercooked Meat
Pregnant women usually stand a higher risk of severe food poisoning due to microorganisms like salmonella and listeria that are often found in raw or undercooked meat. More often than not, the foetus is at the receiving end as this may lead to unwarranted pregnancy loss. Furthermore, toxoplasma, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis is occasionally found in raw meat and can cause blindness and mental retardation in the unborn baby. Hence, it is advisable to cook meats and poultry thoroughly prior to consumption.
Raw or Undercooked Eggs
These are commonly infected by salmonella which is a common cause of acute food poisoning. Therefore, it is only wise for a pregnant woman to avoid raw eggs or products that contain raw eggs like home-made mayonnaise and ice cream. A valuable piece of advice is to cook eggs properly until the egg yolk and egg white are firm.
Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables
In spite of the tremendous benefits that fruits and vegetables offer, when contaminated, they are potential sources of various infections that could lead to severe food poisoning in the mother and adverse occurrences in the foetus. Hence, cultivate the good habit of washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption.
Liver and Liver Products:
Foods with a high content of vitamin A such as liver and liver products like cod liver oil, liver sausage and pate may not be the best for you during pregnancy. Although they are rich in iron and folic acid, they also contain significant quantities of vitamin A which may be harmful to the baby in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Any quantity of alcohol is not advised in pregnancy as alcohol intake increases your risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Moreover, there is such a disease entity as the Foetal Alcohol Syndrome in which the unborn baby suffers from mental retardation, congenital heart defects and facial anomalies. Evidently, this syndrome is typically observed in babies of alcoholic mothers.
To sum up, in order to ensure that your pregnancy is a rewarding and satisfying experience culminating in the timely delivery of a healthy baby, it is important to avail yourself of the list above and steer clear of whatever food may jeopardize your health or that of your unborn baby.